Beijing Academic Library & Information System (BALIS) is one of the higher education public service systems in Beijing under the leadership of the Beijing Committee for Academic Libraries (BCAL), which is approved by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission (MEC). BALIS, the largest regional university library alliance (RULA) in Beijing ( Yi, 2014), was formally established in 2007, and has 90 member libraries, covering almost all Beijing university libraries ( Ding et al., 2010). BALIS adopts the method of project establishment to develop itself. The BALIS Management Committee (BMCE) organizes the application of sub-projects (SP) every year. After the SP are approved, the BALIS management center (BMC) is responsible for the process management and performance evaluation of the SP. This article mainly adopts the method of case analysis, taking BALIS’s management of projects, funds, performance, files as the research object; the purpose is to explain the management mechanism of the regional alliances of Chinese university libraries.
2. Project Management
The construction of BALIS adopts a project management (PM) system. In order to better promote the construction of BALIS, the BCAL established the BMCE and set up the management center (MC) as its executive agency ( Wang et al., 2008). The BMC is located in the library of Renmin University of China, which is responsible for the implementation and management of the project ( Yi & Lin, 2013), and determines the construction of SP according to the project approved by the BCAL. Each SP has a construction unit to organize and implement all related matters and be responsible for the MC. According to the specific conditions of the SP, the BMCE uses three methods of assignment, bid invitation, and bidding to generate construction units within the membership libraries. Each SP is managed by the contracting member library, and they need to set up a sub-project management (SPM) team to implement SPM. For SP involving multiple member libraries, one or two members of the management team must come from non-contractors, nominated by the contractor and submitted to the BMC for approval. According to the “Guidelines for Sub-project Construction (SPC)” issued by the Management Committee (MCE), the contractor shall prepare the “SPC Feasibility Study Report” and submit it to the MCE for approval.
3. Fund Management
The fund management of the project is entrusted to the BMC by the MCE. The management and use of the project funds must comply with the relevant national fiscal and financial systems and the regulations, and at the same time, it must be conducive to project construction. Based on the principle of seeking truth from facts and careful budgeting, the SPC unit prepares a realistic “SP annual budget”, signs reports to the BMC. The budget of the project includes the following, as shown in Table 1.
The project budget (PB) can also include the necessary consumables and data collection, integration, and processing costs for the purchase of the project during the implementation of the project. At the same time, it also includes the relevant expenses needed in the business of document resource procurement coordination, interlibrary loan, document delivery, joint reference and consultation, such as communication, duplication, consultation, etc.
The MCE of BALIS organizes experts to review or evaluate the budget of the project. The amount of funding is determined based on the project funding situation and the opinions of the review experts, as well as the relevant financial
Table 1. The project expenditure budget.
systems, and in accordance with the prescribed procedures. The SPC unit must use the funds in strict accordance with the approved use, scope and expenditure standards of the approved SP budget. The sub-project funds (SPF) are generally not added, and there are no unforeseen expenses. If the lack of funds due to uncontrollable factors obviously affects the completion of the project, the construction unit shall submit an application, which is confirmed by experts and approved by the MCE, and the project funds can be appropriately added. The amount does not exceed 5% of the original funds, and the part is still insufficient. The contractor is responsible for the solution. The SPC funds shall not be used for payment of various fines, donations, etc., shall not be used for various welfare expenditures, and shall not be used for other expenditures prohibited by national regulations. The part of the SPF used for PM is directly allocated by the MC to the construction unit, or managed by the MC. The remaining part is not directly allocated to the construction unit. When used, the MC will directly allocate it to the designated payee according to the requirements of the SPC unit. The SP that failed the mid-term inspection, were suspended or cancelled for some reason, stopped funding. For expenditures within the annual budget approved by the BMC, fill in the sub-project appropriation application (SPAA) form, sign and approve the SP leader, and report to the BMC for funding. If the information in the SPAA form changes, the BMC should be notified in time.
The SPF must imply the approval system related to financial expenditure and reporting. The person in charge of the SP shall approve all expenditures in accordance with the prescribed expenditure scope. When spending more than 10,000 yuan, the relevant contract must be provided to the BMC. After the funds are allocated, the person in charge of the SP shall urge the relevant personnel to return the bills to the BMC in time and report the accounts. At the end of each year, the SPC unit shall, based on the approved annual budget of the SP, compile the final account of the SP’s annual expenditure for the corresponding year and submit it to the MC. In principle, the annual funding of the SP must be implemented as planned in the current year. After the completion of the SPC, the SPC unit shall prepare the final account of the sub-project expenditure (SPE) according to the approved SPE budget, which shall be reviewed by the BMC and archived for future reference ( Yi & Zhang, 2012).
For SP that fail the acceptance, all costs for the second acceptance shall be borne by the construction unit. The management and use of SPF should be subject to inspection and supervision by the higher-level financial department, the national audit agency and the BMC. The SPC unit shall actively cooperate and provide relevant information. The BMC will take written warnings, circulate criticisms, and stop appropriations if the SP contractor violates the provisions of these Measures and the BMC’s PM Measures, depending on the severity of the circumstances. The relevant personnel with serious circumstances shall be held accountable. According to the requirements of the Beijing Municipal Finance Bureau (BMFB), the BMC evaluates the implementation of the SP and the use of funds. Assets purchased by SPF are state-owned assets, and their use rights belong to the SPC unit, and must be included in the SPC unit’s fixed asset account for accounting and management. The disposal of assets shall be implemented in accordance with relevant state regulations to prevent the loss of state-owned assets.
To ensure the smooth progress of the project and quality management, the MCE has the right to check the progress of the SP at any time. The SPC unit has the obligation to cooperate with the inspection. The SP contractor must regularly report the progress of the project to the MC, and report major issues at any time. The construction unit shall not change the construction content without authorization. Any adjustments must be approved by the MCE. Major changes need to be discussed by the expert group before being submitted to the MCE office meeting for approval. And sign the “SP Supplementary Agreement”. During the progress of the SP, if the MCE finds that the contractor has seriously violated the agreement, or there are obvious signs that the contractor is not competent for the construction tasks of the SP, the MCE has the right to cancel the SP after the expert group’s evaluation and determination. The construction qualification of the construction unit, and the remaining funds or all funds will be recovered according to the situation. For the computer hardware and software systems that need to be purchased out of the SP, if the project funds are paid, the construction unit is responsible for organizing and preparing the bidding requirements, and the BMC will make unified arrangements.
4. Performance Management
According to the regulations of the BMFB and the MEC on PM, the BALIS project accepts mid-term inspection, acceptance and performance appraisal by the Beijing Municipal Finance Review Center. The MCE shall arrange the mid-term inspection, acceptance and performance appraisal of the contractor according to the “SPC Agreement” one month in advance. The contractor must submit the “SP Mid-term Inspection Report”, “SP Acceptance Report” and “SP Performance Evaluation Report” to the MCE. After the MCE reviews, it will organize an inspection team to conduct on-site inspections as appropriate. As a result, a report is submitted, and when necessary, the MCE organizes an expert group on-site review, and puts forward the “SP Acceptance Conclusion”. The MC summarizes the materials of each SP in accordance with the requirements of the BMFB and the MEC, and prepares and submits the “Project Mid-term Inspection Report”, “Project Acceptance Report” and “Project Performance Evaluation Report” ( Xu & Lu, 2017).
5. File Management
All files generated during the construction of the SP must be submitted to the MCE for record. These documents include at least: “SPC Guidelines”, “SPC Feasibility Study Report”, “SPC Agreement”, “SP Mid-term Inspection Report” and “Evaluation Opinion”, “SP Acceptance Report” and “Conclusion of Acceptance”. The “SPC Guide” is organized by the MCE and mainly includes construction goals, specific content, expected indicators, and progress requirements; the “SPC Feasibility Study Report” is prepared by the contractor, which mainly includes construction goals and content, and budget with funding methods, schedules, professional technical routes, organizational management and PM team candidates, assessment indicators, operation mode recommendations, etc. The “SPC Agreement” is jointly signed by the MCE and the contractor, and the main content includes the objectives of the SP, tasks, schedules, deadlines for completion, project funding, content and methods of project results, ownership of results, project acceptance procedures and dispute resolution methods, etc. The bidding method must also have the following documents: “Project Proposal (PP)” and “Bid Evaluation Results”. Other documents generated during the project construction process must also be submitted by the contractor to the BMC for archiving, such as the “Requirements Analysis Report”, “System Design Report”, “Standard Specifications”, “Detailed Description”, “User Manual”, etc. All documents are collected by the MC. The “PP” mainly includes construction goals, specific content, assessment indicators, budgets, schedules, technical routes, existing work foundations, and benefit analysis.
Through the above research, it is not difficult to find that we can understand the BALIS project management mechanism (MM) from four aspects: sub-project management, financial management, performance management, and document management. For the China’s university regional library alliances (CURLA), their project management mechanisms are basically the same. Therefore, we can also see clearly the MM of CURLA from the BALIS project MM. Because BALIS is the largest regional library alliance in Beijing, and also a representative of the CURLA. The management mechanism is an indispensable condition to support the sustainable development of CURLA.